(Editor's note: This post was originally published by SDGLN content partner GLAAD.)
Last Friday evening, the Los Angeles Dodgers spread their arms out wide to welcome more than their opponents and regular fans. For the first time in the team’s history, LGBT Night OUT was celebrated and hosted at Dodger Stadium. This event specifically welcomed LGBT fans to the crowd. In addition to new fans, the team also brought a few familiar faces in the gay culture to the field for a pre-gram ceremony.
To begin the evening, Amber Riley, better known as Mercedes on Glee, performed the National Anthem on the diamond, while being accompanied by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. Another pop singer to join the festivities is former ‘N Sync member and out musician Lance Bass. Bass started the game by delivering the traditional phrase; “It’s time for Dodger Baseball.”
Former Dodger outfielder Billy Bean and Jason Collins, both openly gay athletes, accompanied Riley and Bass on this special night as they both threw the ceremonial first pitch. Billy Bean initially made headlines fourteen years ago when he came out after retiring from baseball. He has made history by being the only living MLB player who has come out as gay. In addition to his accolades on the field, as of May 2013, he is The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation vice-chairman of its board. As recently discussed by GLAAD, Jason Collins is a twelve-year veteran in the NBA who recently became the first active and openly gay athlete in the leagues history.
During a pre-game interview, Bean expressed how tough it was to come out when he did. He felt that he had to quit playing baseball in order to come out. Back then if he had known some of the things he knows now, he would have continued to play. He didn’t feel as if he had the outlets to reach too and was left with the difficult decision to leave the sport he loves in order to be happy with whom he was. Bean admired Jason Collins for his courage to come out while being a professional athlete. He expressed that if more athletes like Collins continue to be true to who they are, more young athletes will see this type of support and choose to stay in the game.
After the Friday night game against the Rockies-where Colorado walked away with a 2-1 victory against the Dodgers-fans were welcomed onto the field to enjoy a fireworks display with music provided by DJ Manny Lehman.
Hosting the LGBT Night OUT event by the Los Angeles Dodgers is trailblazing for the LGBT community. What better way to show support for the LGBT community than through one of America’s most prized athletic competitions? Thanks to the Dodgers for giving LGBT fans a great night out.